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Doing the deal with augmented reality

AR-powered app allows buyers a 3D look at 11 Wellesley before condo is built

Developer Barry Fenton was impressed.

It was barely 5 a.m. on a Sunday in late May — the day of a VIP preview sales event at the on-site presentation centre for his company’s new condominium project, 11 Wellesley on the Park — and more than 150 brokers were already lined up around the block.

Especially noteworthy, recalls Fenton, president of Lanterra Developments, was that all of the agents seemed to be holding iPads.

“I thought they were coming to an Apple convention or something,” he says.

In truth, those brokers were armed with tablets so they could experience the state-of-the-art technology Lanterra is employing to market and sell 11 Wellesley. The firm recently released an app that uses augmented reality, or AR, to show brokers and buyers exactly how the condo will look — in striking 3D form — long before ground has broken on the project.

Augmented reality enhances real-world environments and experiences by superimposing computer-generated images, videos or sounds over the views people see through their tablets, smartphones or digital eyewear. Brokers at the 11 Wellesley VIP event back in May simply pointed their devices at the hoarding that surrounds the building site, and codes embedded in Lanterra logos on the boards triggered a computer-generated, 3D virtual image of the planned, 60-storey building on the currently empty property.

That’s just the start. The Lanterra AR app enables brokers and buyers to go on virtual tours of suites, experiencing through their tablets or smartphones what it’s like to stand in the middle of a typical suite. Brokers can show clients views from several different floors and peruse the condo’s common areas, including a new 1.6-acre park to be built at the base of 11 Wellesley. And it’s all rendered in 3D.

“Talk about epic experiences,” says Adelino Hilario, a vice-president and partner with Klokwerks Creative Production Studio, the firm that developed the app for Lanterra. “A broker can place buyers in front of the building, or go inside and show them the amenities. It empowers the broker as well as the buyer.”

Augmented reality is a marketing game-changer, notes Helen Papagiannis, a Toronto-based AR specialist and consultant. “Augmented reality is an excellent visualization tool to show possibilities of things that don’t yet exist in reality,” she says.

“So we’re starting to see it being used in retail marketing, and now in real estate, where AR has real value as a visualization and sales tool for the consumer.”

The Star published an edition last September 19 that was filled with AR-enabled photos leading to videos and photo galleries.

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